Healthy eating and staying active during your pregnancy can help support your baby’s development and has health and wellbeing benefits for you.
Sometimes health professionals (such as midwives or doctors) might recommend ways to reach a healthy weight gain range for some mums-to-be who could be at risk of gaining too little or too much weight during pregnancy. Your Get Healthy in Pregnancy coach can help you set goals and create healthy eating and physical activity habits during and after your pregnancy.
Our pregnancy weight gain calculator can help you see how you’re tracking.
Healthy eating in pregnancy
The basics of healthy eating still apply during pregnancy – such as eating a wide variety of nutritious foods and limiting ‘sometimes’ foods and drinks. But there are also certain nutrients you’ll need more of and certain foods you should avoid to keep you and your baby safe. Here are some tips to get you started.
- Enjoy a variety of different food from the five food groups every day:
- vegetables and legumes
- breads and cereals
- milk, yoghurt and cheese
- meat, poultry, fish and alternatives
- One way to reach the recommended amount from each group is to limit intake of ‘sometimes’ foods which can be high in unhealthy fats, added salt and sugar.
- Include foods rich in folate, iodine and iron as they play a big role in the growth and development of your baby.
- Avoid foods that pose a risk of illness from listeria or too much mercury. Learn more about foods to avoid when pregnant.
- Find ways to help you manage morning sickness and food aversions which could be making it difficult to eat healthily.
- Try the Healthy Living food calculator to help you work out what you need (make sure you select ‘pregnant’ or ‘breastfeeding’).
How much do I need to eat?
- During the first trimester of your pregnancy you don’t need to eat any more than before you were pregnant.
- After the first trimester you may need to adapt this depending on your weight gain range in consultation with your midwife or doctor.
- Later in the pregnancy you may find it becomes difficult to eat because the baby is taking up more space – eating small portions more often can help.
- Aim to drink 8-10 glasses of water per day and increase this to 13 glasses when breastfeeding.
- Alcohol is not recommended if you are planning a pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding as it can harm the developing foetus and baby. Not drinking is the safest option.
- If not drinking alcohol might be a challenge for you, it can help to have someone to support you without judgement. Get Healthy in Pregnancy health coaches can provide confidential support to help you stop drinking, eat healthily and be active during and after your pregnancy.
Find more advice for healthy eating when you’re pregnant from Pregnancy, Birth & Baby.
Physical activity in pregnancy
Staying active can help you cope with pregnancy, childbirth and recovery, and can also support your mental health during this important stage of life. You don’t need to do high intensity workouts to feel the positive effects – doing a small amount of physical activity most days is better than nothing.
Staying active during pregnancy has many benefits for the health of you and your baby, including:
- preparing for labour and recovery
- a lower risk of gestational diabetes
- less back and pelvic pain
- lower risk of incontinence
- supporting your mental health, including a lower risk of postnatal depression.
During your pregnancy aim to be active on most, if not all, days of the week. If you and your baby are healthy then try to include:
- 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity per week (or 30-60 minutes a day)
- 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity per week (or 15-30 minutes a day)
- an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activities.
Try to use the ‘talk test’ to assess the level of intensity – you should be able to have a conversation during moderate intensity activities, but in vigorous intensity activities you would find this difficult.
Tips for staying active during pregnancy
Create a habit
Whether it’s walking, swimming or prenatal pilates – try to build physical activity into your daily routine in a way that makes you feel comfortable and safe.
Aim to include:
- muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days each week
- breaking up long periods of sitting and standing still
- doing pelvic floor exercises every day.
A Get Healthy in Pregnancy health coach can also support you to develop safe and effective physical activity habits that fit into your routine.
Mix it up
- Find something you enjoy – you’re more likely to do it regularly.
- Include incidental exercise in your day like taking the stairs or walking the dog.
- If it’s accessible to you, find an activity you could do with friends or family, so it’s a social occasion which benefits your wellbeing too.
Listen to what your body needs
Exercise at a level that works for you and follow recommended safety advice. If you’re unsure where to start or what’s right for you, speak to your doctor of midwife.
Most exercises are safe as long as you:
- take things easy
- stop when you are tired
- drink plenty of water and take care not to overheat
- wear suitable clothing
- remember to ‘warm up’ and ‘cool down’ to prevent injury
- stop the activity if you experience any pain that doesn’t settle quickly.
Avoid activities that run the risk of injury or are unsafe. If you’re doing an exercise class, make sure your teacher is qualified and let them know you’re pregnant.
Need help to Get Healthy in Pregnancy?
Get Healthy in Pregnancy is a free NSW Government service for all pregnant women in NSW. Call 1300 806 258 to talk to a qualified Health Coach or start your journey here! You can also ask your Midwife, GP or Obstetrician for a referral to the Get Healthy Service at your next appointment.